Essential TT/Cartridge Set up tools

After much fretting...I've deciced to go with an VPI HW19MKIII with a Rega RB300 arm (purchased seperately) On my previous Throrens, and current AR. I believe all I used to set up my turntable was the cartridge manufuacturers template, and the basic instructions from the TT manual for setting Anti-skate, tracking force etc... What tools should I get to make sure I get everything setup right. There seems to be a wide range of scales, protractors, etc... available at an equally wide range of prices.

What really is needed and any recommendations on the most cost effecient easy to use tools?

Thanks in Advance,

I use a mirrored alignment protractor that cost $20, and a Shure VTF scale that was around $20 too. A small round bubble level is needed for leveling the table, and can be gotten from any hardware store for a few dollars.

That's all I ever needed.

There are some nice expensive protractors out there like the old Dennesen and the current Wallytractor, if you want to spend more money. Also, you can spend up to $500 on a ultra-accurate digital scale if you want to.
Tom is correct, you don't really need expensive tools to do a very credible job of setup. Some of the settings, especially VTA, is something you will want to hone in by ear anyway.

On the subject of scales, the Shure gauge works fine in most all applications. Make sure you get the non-magnetized later version, though. I recently bought a small pocket digital scale that works very nicely, indeed, and is accurate to 0.01 gr. It is a bit more than the Shure gauge, but not on the order of, say, the $500+ they want for the Winds scales. I think I paid $63-something with all shipping included. I tested it with a 10gr, 25gr, and 50gr weight and the scale read them all dead-on. Please find the link below (there are others, of course).
I second Twl's protractor and 4yanx's scale.

I prefer a small straight level to a round one. You can check levelness (leveltude?) between any two points, like any two feet of the TT. You can also spin the level 180 degrees to make sure it's accurate. Can't do that with a round one.

Read the FAQ's on Vinyl Asylum for a complete education on TT/arm/cartridge setup.
Word of warning on the digital scales: some are very magnetic. Keep your cartridge well away.

You'll have to devise some doohickey to weigh on the plane of the record anyway. That should keep the scale and cartridge apart. Not hard with a little ingenuity. I use a folded piece of paper.
I use a cheap plastic straight level and a Shure gauge. Works great for me!
Hey Doug,

>>You'll have to devise some doohickey to weigh on the plane of the record anyway. That >>should keep the scale and cartridge apart.

Can you explain how measuring on the plane of the record keeps the cart. & scale apart?? Thanx.

I'll add a *small* 90 degree bent tip needlenose pliers, a small screwdriver and a jeweler's loupe. Get up with the program!
Bombaywall, I'll speak for myself and let Doug correct me if this isn't also what he meant. With the scale I have, it is a bit "thinner" than the height of the platter + a "standard" LP thickness. My scale isn't magnetic, so I put pad of just the right thickness of "sticky pads" under the scale so as to bring the height of the scale pan equal to the height of the platter + LP. If your scale IS magnetic, maybe putting the "shim" on top of the scale pan and zeroing out the scale will separate it sufficiently from the cartridge. If THAT makes any sense. :-)
The shim that 4yanx mentions could be a small sheet of mu metal, at that point nulling the effects of any magnetics. You will also find it titled under "Hy Perm 80", or "Permendur".

I use sheets of it exclusively, affixed to the underside of all of the shelves on my stereo rack.

Unobtrusive, and extremely effective.
Makes sense now! Thanx for the explanation.

Thanx for the reco of those mu-metal sheets.
My scale IS rather magnetic so here's what I do. I put the scale beneath the arm but down on the TT stand next to my plinth. (On a Teres the tonearm hangs out over the stand.)

This puts the scale the height of the Teres below the tonearm, about 8" or so. I put a little homemade paper tower on the scale with the plastic weighing tray that came with the scale on top. The tower puts the tray at record height and keeps the cartridge 8" or so above the scale.

YMMV depending on the design of your plinth. Another way to do it is to make a jig like the Wally scale comes with. One guy on VA made one from a broken CD jewel case. (Good use for that, ay?)
Thanks for the explanation, Doug.
Yes, the fellow on VA was quite ingenious!
All of the above and...a sense of humor.
Thanks to all who responded. Reassuring to know I don't have to spend a small fortune on setup tools to get it right.

All The Best,